May 20, 2007


I remember a few years ago there was a news (read: tabloid) story about Michael Jackson dangling a child (his child?) out of a high window. I'm fuzzy on the details, partly because, who cares? If Michael Jackson is a little reckless in how he plays with his children, why spill ink to tell me this.

Now, we live on the top floor of a typical Chicago 3-story brick building. We have a back porch and a set of back stairs. Over the railing of our back porch -- maybe 30 feet down -- is concrete patio.

Sarah and I have both thought about what this means for the small person of Elliot. A lot. So vivid are these thoughts, actually, that by an unspoken rule we usually avoid taking Elliot down the the back stairs at all, because to even walk down those stairs while carrying him invokes the nonzero probability of tripping or slipping. And this, in turn, brings with it the terrible possibility of his body hurtling toward the concrete. It cannot be borne.

This vision actually extends its grip to the indoors. Whenever anyone holding my son moves toward our back door, to do some innocent thing like inspect a passing songbird, I want to grab them by the hem and say -- or I guess I sort of DO say -- something like "Hey, not sure if you were going to go out on the back patio or not, but if you were, and if you were taking Elliot with you, try to remember to stay really far away from the edge, OK. Or you know what? Maybe I'll just take him. Maybe I'll just go ahead and take him back now. Thanks!"

{Here I clasp Elliot to my bosom, and we flee.}

As I woke up this morning, I heard Sarah opening a window somewhere in the house. And, as opening windows do, it caused me to think about where the boy was, and if he was safe. And the Michael Jackson thing crossed my mind for some reason.

As I got out of bed to confirm with my own sleep-crusty eyes that Elliot was on firm ground, I realized two things:
  1. that there is an elemental connection between us. He is burrowed down into me. There's no part of me that can let him fall.

  2. if that really was Michael Jackson's own child dangling in the empty air, then Michael Jackson is far crazier than anyone had supposed


TH said...

You guys are going to be in for some stress when he starts moving. Kids are automatically atracted to all things dangerous and off limits. It won't be long and you will see the myriad of threats in your own home...

Katie said...

I *so* get this. I even felt the terror you feel-- It's deep gut terror. It's going to be terrifying when our children start to climb things.

Misty said...

First thought when reading this post? Oh. My. God. You are me. I never had a problem with heights until I had kids. Now, I am so so so terrified of heights and children falling that I completely LOST it when there was this benign father holding his infant son on the top floor of the mall where there is like, railing and you can see the floor below? I just knew that kid was going to squirm out of his arms and plunge to his death. Yes, the dad was 5 feet away from the railing, but still. Total panic attack.

Just this last weekend while we were flying home from a trip, I snatched a carry-on item from my poor husband's hands saying, "If you are carrying Ian up those stairs, I want you to concentrate on him and nothing else." Total headcase, I swear.

I would like to say you get over it, but I don't really think you do. And that is a good thing, right?

Elliot's Mimi said...

1. anytime Brandon Lee Walter Harvey is blogging (or doing much of anything besides snoozing for that matter) at 6:41 AM, you know Elliot has completely altered his life.

2. well, yeah, ok, so I'm afraid of some heights even without Elliot factored in (like I really think I'd hate that plexiglass sky walk thingie out over the Grand Canyon--shudder!). But with precious little ones factored in, I have to put a major spell on myself to remain remotely calm in the presence of sheer drop-offs.

3. This is partly because Sarah herself loved to dive into empty space. She hurled herself off the top step of one flight of stairs (fortunately carpeted in both cases) in her baby-hood, and then down our basement stairs when she was four (not carpeted, cement below, and she broke her arm that time). Actually, the arm was Sarah's third fracture by age 4! SO....I think we should consider boarding up the back door of Sarah's and Brandon's condo (HAVE YOU SEEN IT?!) until Elliot is at least, say, eight!